Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hurts Me ... Davy Jones

Davy Jones, 1945-2012

(CNN) -- Davy Jones, whose charming grin and British accent won the hearts of millions of fans on the 1960s television series "The Monkees," died Wednesday, according to the Martin County, Florida, sheriff's office. He was 66.

A witness told authorities he was with Jones in Indiantown, Florida, when Jones "began to complain of not feeling well and having trouble breathing," the sheriff's office said in a statement.

Jones was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, authorities said.

A Martin County law enforcement source with knowledge of the case said Jones apparently suffered a heart attack.

Laurie Jacobson, whose company Living Legends LTD often booked Jones for Hollywood nostalgia shows, spoke with him two days ago about several new bookings.

"He was a vegetarian, and there was not an ounce of fat on the guy," Jacobson said. "He lived on the beach in Florida and ran miles every morning. This is the last person I expected this to happen to. He couldn't have been in better shape."

The diminutive vocalist and actor sang lead on the musical group's hits such as "Daydream Believer" and "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You."

Besides Jones, The Monkees included band members Micky Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith. The pop group was created to star in an NBC sitcom and capitalize on the Beatles' teenybopper popularity. "The Monkees" TV series premiered in the fall of 1966.

In terms of musical popularity, the project succeeded beyond anyone's expectations, with the group notching a handful of No. 1 songs (including "I'm a Believer," Billboard's top song of 1967) and four No. 1 albums.

The group, which was dubbed the "prefab four" by critics, rebelled against its management in an effort to take control of its musical career.

The move worked to an extent -- band members, who had generally been replaced by session men on Monkees recordings, were allowed to play their own instruments and contribute songs -- but coincided with a decline in the Monkees' popularity. NBC canceled the TV series "The Monkees" after just two seasons, and the band lasted for only one more year after that.

Though the TV show was never a huge ratings hit, its knockabout, Marx Brothers-style comedy -- inspired, to an extent, by the loopier sequences in the Beatles' "A Hard Day's Night" -- gained fans and followers, reigniting the band's popularity when MTV reran the show in the mid-'80s.


Monday, February 27, 2012

American Baptist Gothic

As part of a church workday, these men raked leaves and cut trees and gathered trash and whatnot Saturday. Surely this photo makes you wish to be a part of our Sunday School class, even if you aren't a male in the 9th or 10th grade, as these gentlemen are. We meet in Ruston at 945ish on Sunday mornings. We don't rake on Sundays.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

With Apologies to Petula Clark, Things Will Be Great When You're 'Downton'

(From today's Times and News-Star)

Until last week I thought a footman was a podiatrist and a valet would fetch your car after the big party, if you tipped.

But that was my pre-Downton Abbey life. PDA. If you live in a world unfamiliar with this British TV series, please listen and you will send me crumpets and roses after you meet Lord Grantham and Anna the Head Housemaid and Mr. Bates (who I like but who is starting to get on my nerves for some reason) and the matchless Maggie Smith as Violet, Countess of Grantham, a one-woman comedy team who throws verbal haymakers without reserve. One writer has said that the purpose of the whole series might be nothing more than the creation of a specific world in which Maggie Smith can wield barbs “like an aristocratic ninja.”

I love her so!

Years ago, at long last unhooked from the long arm of the law in the form of the infernal NYPD Nude, I vowed to not watch a TV series again. Took too much time. I strayed into “The Wire” a few years back – what a memorable outing -- but have been clean since.

But that was before Downton Abbey. I am attached as by television Velcro. A slave to the series.

Like many of you, I was unwashed, is all, to the things of your European aristocracy. But I know now that there is a world where men wear bowties at supper, where women are daily corseted like an NBA tenny shoe and where both would rather die than have the neighbors find out there’s Bama preserves in the icebox and Little Debbies on the kitchen counter.

Downton Abbey (does this sound like a London streetwalker's stage name to just me?) is all the rage in the television world, something I didn’t know about until my friend Lil’ Tone told me. He’s a man about town and knows these sorts of things. He explained that it was on PBS, had just completed its second season, was winning awards hither and yon for “Best Series” and things like that, and was “drawing a huge share” of the TV viewing audience.

Lil’ Tone called it a “British television period drama,” a near soap opera actually, set in a “big, huge castle.”

“Is it like Monty Python?” was my question. “I love Monty Python. Do they sing? Will they do skits? Does John Clee…”

“You are a stupid and largely unromantic person,” Lil’ Tone said.

I ordered Season One for $19.95 and gave it to my spousal unit for Valentine’s Day because nothing says romance quite like seven hours of unknown television, unless it’s maybe an unrehearsed trip to O’Charley’s. Or perhaps Olive Garden.

Ignorant and unromantic my foot.

Proving that a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then, the gift was a cinematic homer! We knocked out Season One in three nights – I have not watched this much TV in one sitting since the football bowl games – and are counting the minutes until the mailman shows up with the hastily ordered Season Two. (Plus, I got out of Valentine’s Day for under 50 bucks/pounds, give or take. Ha ha! Hahahahaha! I am so The Man!)

The problem now is that Season 3 won’t even shoot until spring. (Lazy Brits!) I cannot make my Season 2 DVDs – if they’ll ever get here! -- last longer than a week, even if I summon all of the tiny bit of willpower I possess. What ever will I…?

Thank goodness baseball’s spring training started this week.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Who And Why? (Mentor series)

(Notes from FBC Ruston and Dr. Chris, Jan 22, 2012)

1 Timothy 1:1-3
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope,
2 To Timothy my true son in the faith:
Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
Timothy Charged to Oppose False Teachers 3 As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus...

Whay Are We Here? Why Am I Here?
v. 1 .. Paul establishes his authroity for readers.
'Apostle' means someone sent, an ambassador sent by a leader to a foreign land
Paul knew why God had left him here
* Why has God left you on earth now? (God didn't leave you hear to be unhappy and ineffective)

1. To Advance the Name of Jesus
v. 1 -- "God our savior" ... emporer was considered and called 'savior' by Romans at this time; Paul is more concerned about lifting up God than pleasing politicians

2. To Bless Others
v. 2 -- Timothy, as many leaders can relate, struggled with discouragement and disappointment and depression; he was pastor in a difficult situation in Ephesus ... He understood 'grace,' the undeserved favor and goodness of God...mercy and peace are Paul's blessings in prayer to Timothy ... he is an encourager

3. Settling These Issues Makes All The Difference
a. Your life has a real positive purpose
C.S. Lewis: Following God does not mean you'll always be happy; not following God guarantees you will not be happy
* Be about the business of the king

b. You can endure the worst
vs. 3 -- Timothy had wanted to leave Ephesus. Paul knew he could hang in there. Paul had been imprisoned, beaten etc. for the faith ... He endured because he knew why God had left him here

c. This is where you will be effective and leave a legacy
God to work and meet each day with assurance that you know why you are here and your are doing what you're to be doing. (We ALL live on borrowed time)

Understand your privilege to serve, and serve with passion


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wrong Kind of Division ('To Corinth, With Love -- Sort Of' series)

(Notes from FBC Ruston, Jan. 8, Dr. Chris...)

1 Corinthians 1:10-17

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. 11 My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12 What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”
13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so no one can say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

Division in the church -- and other key places -- is so wrong

There needs to be unity, not uniformity necessarily, among Christians
John 17 -- Jesus' prayer for us -- UNITY

What Are Some Causes Of Divisions?

I. Picking your 'hero' -- spiritual immaturity (v. 12)
* Why is spiritual immaturity so bad?
vs. 10 -- The Holy Spirit is quenched as people argue
John 17 -- "I pray they are one as we are one" ... our divisions hurt the name of Christ

II. What Do We Do?

1. Never Forget the Importance of Unity
v. 10 -- mended nets equals good fishing
v 13 -- Christ is not divided

2. Make Sure Your Heart is Right
a. Constant bickering is a sign of a heart problem.
Are you saved? Mature? Growing? Jesus would have shot straight and been easy to get along with ...
b. Godly folk are not troublemakers who live in their mistakes .. "Blessed are the peacemakers"
c. Major on the majors, not on the minors (v 13-17)

Friday, February 17, 2012

MENTOR SERIES: No Matter Who! No Matter What!

(My notes from jan 15, sun a.m., FBC Ruston and Dr. Chris)

1 Timothy 1:12-17

12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service. 13 Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. 14 The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
15 Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. 16 But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

1. No matter who you are or what you've done, Christ can save you (v 13-16)
Christ saved Saul/Paul ... Paul declares he is a trophy of the grace of God
vs. 17 is an exclamation point on Paul's declaration

2. No matter who you are or what you've done, Christ can use you (v 12)
God appointed Paul a servant/minister, though he HAD been a destroyer of the church; he wrote at least 13 New Testament books...

Illustration: Sailor and party-er and slave trader John Newton found Christ, authored "Amazing Grace" and became a minister who worked to end the slave trade

Paul wants us to understand that the hope and grace available to him is available to all


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Costs More Than Roses

“I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
and remembers your sins no more.”
Isaiah 43: 25 (NIV)

The little dog is named Lily. She is a Maltese. Those are tiny white dogs; Lily is a three-pounder. She is no threat to your shin.

On the bright side, she does not shed. On the not-as-bright side, she cannot fetch the paper or, unless wear a size one-half, bring your slippers. Her little legs can’t last for a walk with you around the block.

Until Lily, I had never had what I call a “kick me” dog, one that follows you around inside as a fly follows potato salad at the church picnic. I am pro-dog, no question. But at first, I wasn’t sure Lily qualified. She is a dog as a Lab is a dog, but only in the same sense that a Little League field and Yankee Stadium are both ballparks.

Yet I love ’ol Lily. I do. She is loyal, friendly, always thrilled to see me. I have come to understand that her sole purpose is to show and receive affection. She does this well. The Maltese breed won’t beat up a burglar, but she’ll never refuse to sit in your lap if you’re feeling down, either. I am learning a lot from her.

Love is in the air today in the form of cards, candies, flowers. Lily will not know that. Every day is Valentine’s Day to her. She skipped romantic love (our money and the vet helped with that) and went straight to the kind of love that has no conditions. Love for love’s sake.

God puts love all around us. Maybe it is no stretch to say that He lets us see Him in the wind and rain, in the beauty of a person or a landscape, in the cry of a baby or in what passes for a bark from a Maltese.

But this love has a price. I have been convicted again, just recently, of the cost of His love for us, what it cost God to really go all the way in terms of satisfying both His perfect justice and His perfect love. I take this for granted. He never has. His example is a reminder that love, as He defines it -- as He IS -- is not cheap.

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.”
Isaiah 53: 4-5 (NIV)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Choose For 2012

(Notes from Dr Chris at FBC Ruston, Jan 1, 2012)

Joshua 24: 15
"But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”

* Life's about choices. (Starbucks can make 87,000 kinds of coffee!)
* "God" by definition is your priority, who you answer to.
* "serve" in Hebrew worship, means to honor or be enslaved to..
* "choose," again in Hebrew, insinuated making a deliberate choice.

*JOSHUA offered two choices to the people in this text, toward the end of his life:
The God of the Bible
The Gods of the world (idols and other ancient gods like the sun and moon god; money, sports, power, family etc

* Choose the God of the Scriptures

God wants exclusive claim as No. 1 in your heart
a. it's a PERSONAL choice
b. it will be a PUBLIC choice ... Joshua let the people know who he would serve; if you are ashamed of God, there is a problem, as there would be if you were ashamed of any relationship.
* Luke 12:8-9 "“I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.
c. It's a PRESSING decision ... "choose for yourself today..."
* procrastination calluses your heart
* your choice impacts others
* life's uncertain -- and this choice has eternal consequences

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Formal Request, Casually Speaking

From today's Times and News-Star

Sometimes I feel like actor Will Ferrell as disheveled race car driver Ricky Bobby, a bit out of my mind, insane even, running in my Fruit of the Looms and racing helmet down an asphalt track screaming, “Help me Oprah! Help me Tom Cruuuuuise!”

Sometimes in the Parent-of-a-Teen League, you just can’t win. “Sometimes” here means “just about all of the time.”

Here is the deal: there are too many formal dances or “special occasions” in today’s high school world. This means not only that it costs the “parentals” an official Ton of Dough, but also that teens can grow to take for granted, most naturally, what was once A Big Deal, i.e., the high school formals.

Last week at our school we had the Pepette Formal. This is when the girls who are members of the pep organizations for athletic events ask the guys to go to a formal dance. The invite goes something like this:

Girl: “My folks will spend $200 on my dress and shoes and hair and all if you will spend at least half that much to get your sportcoat pressed and buy me a wrist corsage.”
Boy: “Will there be food?”
Girl: “Yes.”
Boy: “Since it won’t cost me a dime, let’s do this thing!”

This is better than free tickets to a Rangers game.

The schedule for the Pepette Formal was this:

All the kids dressed up and, in groups of two couples to four or five couples, went to a Designated Parent’s house. The parents of the couples brought food. The kids ate, goofed around (in the Other Room, not with the parents, of course), then went to the dance around 9. That ended about midnight. (Some people actually danced at the dance.) Then they went back to the DP’s house for a movie or to play video games, then came home by 2ish.

Two hundred bucks, mind you. And the prom is next month. And homecoming was in the fall.


Granted, I am just the stepdad of a 15-year-old beauty. That’s it. Stepdad is even lower on the rung than an actual dad of a teenaged girl, if it is possible to be lower. Because basically, us guys are just taking up space at this point of a teen girl’s life.

Still, I am entitled to an opinion. (Actually, I’m not!) But if I were allowed to have an opinion, it would be this:

Girls buy two T-shirts they’ve had printed that say Pepette Formal or whatever, like the sororities do at college. These are cherished and worn forever. Guys would love them as well; guys love T-shirts. Option: guys can either buy their own T-shirt or buy the girl flowers: jump ball.

Dance from 6 until 9. In the T-shirts and jeans. Take pictures at the dance. At 9, you go back to the DP’s house. The pressure if already off! Watch an entire movie, eat, play video games until your hands bleed, talk about what you’ll wear to the prom. Keep in mind that all teens are now accounted for, and it’s not even 9:30!

You save money, worry, and needless running hither and yon. You gain FUN, safety, a T-shirt, and the instillation of common sense into a teen that there will be plenty of time for formals later. (We call them weddings and funerals and banquets.) The whole reason for being a teen is NOT to have to go to formals.

This is my informal recommendation to the American people. Feel free to distribute as you wish.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Please Super-Size My Football GAme

(From today's Times and News-Star. Photo from the Sports Illustrated archives, 1981: Olivia, Eli, Archie, Peyton, Cooper)

If you’ve ever met him, you’d agree that it’s hard to believe the approachable Archie Manning, The Greatest Saint of Them All, would be anybody’s third favorite person, much less anybody’s third-favorite Manning.

But so it goes in the National Football League, where you’re only as good as your last child.

Archie’s happens to be Eli. By now everybody knows Eli. Certainly everybody in my mother’s West Monroe Sunday school class does, because he’s been on their prayer list since he quarterbacked at Ole Miss.

“Well,” momma says, “he’s the baby, you know…”

You cannot live in this part of the world and not know about the Mannings. You can’t live in this hemisphere and not know about the Mannings, the First Family of Football and all that.

Archie and Olivia, the parents. (One quarterbacked at Ole Miss, the other was a Homecoming queen. This pairing might represent Mississippi’s finest hour.) Cooper is the oldest boy, his football career – but not his humor – sidelined by injury. Then there’s Peyton, multi-time NFL MVP.

And then there’s “the baby,” quarterback for the New York Football Giants in today’s Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, or, as they’re called in my mom’s Sunday school class, “the Evil Empire.”

It’s no secret how much momma loves football. It’s natural she would gravitate to the Mannings, who are Southern and possibly even Baptist. And good at playing quarterback.

Peyton has long been her favorite Manning child; she has a jersey she wears and a life-sized poster she pulls out for Colts games on television – and a little Peyton football doll I gave her one Christmas. (She wept.) But she started liking Eli a lot because she’s a mother and she doesn’t like to see the baby get pushed around, and she doesn’t like to see Olivia’s face when they show it on television right after Eli gets put on his back.

Eli doesn’t worry about it, but you can’t tell by his face because he always looks a bit puzzled, semi-aggravated, that things didn’t go just right. But he’s used to being knocked down. The thing is, none of this matters when you are a mom. That’s how moms are.

So with Peyton injured and sidelined all season, you’d think momma would have had an easy year. Negative. She’s had to pray for Peyton to heal up, for the Colts to get their act together, AND for Eli. Never was the road longer than in November when the Giants lost four in a row. Momma had to kick it up a notch. The only thing that lightened the load was West Monroe winning the 5A state title; she was able to scratch the Rebels off her list by mid-December.

So far, so good. The Giants could become Super Bowl champs, despite only 9 regular-season wins. In momma’s world, the object of her affection has completed 64 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and just one interception. Somebody, either momma or Eli or the good Lord, is hot as a firecracker.

I’m not saying Heaven has a rooting interest in today’s Super Bowl, surely not in the way that we do. And I’m not saying my mother loves Peyton or Eli Manning more than she loves me. I’m mean, if the three of us were drowning and she could throw just one of us the rope, I know who she’d throw it to.

What I AM saying is that she’d have to stop and think about it for a minute.

Eli and Momma 28, Patriots 27. (I pray…)